Tim Curry is an English actor, singer and composer best known for his role as mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter in the 1975 musical film The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Curry's father, James, was a Methodist Royal Navy chaplain though Curry himself says he was always a cheerful agnostic, and remains so to this day.
Curry was born and raised in Warrington until upon his father's death in 1958, after which he relocated to South London. He attended Kingswood School and though he didn't enjoy the religious aspect of the Methodist school especially he did enjoy the vast number of hymns available.
There, he developed into a talented boy soprano. When his voice broke, his music teacher encouraged him to develop a mature singing voice.
When he was 19, he began his studies at the University of Birmingham, where he also acted with the renowned Guild Theatre Group, completing a joint honours in English and Drama before moving on to study at the University of Cambridge.
He cites Billie Holiday as his major musical influence, saying that he listened to nothing but her records for two years during a period of teenage depression as he contemplated on which gloomy Sunday afternoon I was going to throw myself under a car.
Aside from his performances on various soundtrack records, Curry has had some success as a solo musical artist. In 1978, A&M Records released Curry's debut solo album, Read My Lips. The album featured an eclectic range of songs (mostly covers) performed in diverse genres.
Highlights of the album are a reggae version of the Beatles song I Will, a rendition of Wake Nicodemus with full bagpipe backing, and an original bar-room ballad, Alan.
The following year, Curry released his second and most successful album, Fearless. The LP was more rock-oriented than Read My Lips and mostly featured original songs rather than cover versions. The record included Curry's only US charting songs: I Do the Rock and Paradise Garage.
Curry's third and final album, Simplicity, was released in 1981, again by A&M Records. This record, which did not sell as well as the previous offerings, combined both original songs and cover versions, and is commonly held to be the weakest of his three albums.
In 1989, A&M released The Best of Tim Curry on CD and cassette, featuring songs from his albums (including a live version of Alan) and a previously unreleased song, a live cover version of Simple Twist of Fate.
Curry toured America with his band through the late 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. He also performed in Roger Waters's (of Pink Floyd fame) 1990 production of The Wall in Berlin, as the prosecutor.
Curry's first full-time role was as part of the original London cast of the musical Hair in 1968. Here he first met Richard O'Brien, who went on to create his next full-time and perhaps still most famous role, that of Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show.
Originally, Curry rehearsed the character with a German accent and peroxide blonde hair, but the character evolved into the sly, very upper-class English mad scientist and transvestite that carried over to the movie version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and made Curry both a star and a cult figure.
He continued to play the character in London, Los Angeles and New York until 1975.
For many years, Curry was reluctant to talk about Rocky Horror, feeling that it was a trend that had gone too far and had distracted attention away from his later roles.
A VH1 Pop-Up Video Halloween special even quoted Curry as saying he grew so unnerved by all the fan attention after this role that he became chubby and plain in order to escape it.
However, in recent years he has been much more open about discussing the show and now recognises it as a rite of passage for many young people.
Shortly after the failure of Rocky Horror Show on Broadway, Curry was back on Broadway with Tom Stoppard's Travesties, which ran in London and New York in 1975-1976.
Travesties was a huge Broadway hit which won two Tony Awards (Best Performance by an Actor for John Wood and Best Comedy), the New York Drama Critics Circle Award (Best Play) and Curry's performance as the famous dadaist Tristan Tzara received spectacular reviews.
In 1979, Curry took the part of the Pirate King in a London stage version of The Pirates of Penzance opposite George Cole. The role is one of his favourites even now.
In 1981, he formed part of the original cast in the Broadway show Amadeus, playing the title character, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He was nominated for his first Tony Award (Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play) for this role, but lost out to his co-star Sir Ian McKellen, who played Antonio Salieri.
Back in England, in the mid 1980s, Curry performed in The Rivals (Bob Acres 1983) and in several plays with the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, including the Threepenny Opera (MacHeath 1986), Dalliance (Theodore 1986) and Love For Love (Tattle 1985).
In 1993, he played Alan Swann in the Broadway musical My Favorite Year, earning him his second Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.
In late 2004, he began his role of King Arthur in Monty Python's Spamalot in Chicago. The show successfully moved to Broadway in February 2005. His part in the show got him his third and most recent Tony Award nomination, again for Best Actor in a Musical.
Curry then starred as King Arthur in London's West End at the Palace Theatre, where Spamalot opened on October 16, 2006.
On January 18, 2007, Curry was nominated for Laurence Olivier Award as the Best Actor in a Musical; this was one of seven nominations earned by the London production of Spamalot, including a nomination for the Best New Musical.
On January 24, 2007, Curry was replaced by Simon Russell Beale, who also took over the role of King Arthur on Broadway.
On February 9, 2007 it was announced that Curry also won the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award (getting 39% of the votes cast by over 12,000 theatregoers) as Best Actor in a Musical for his King Arthur at the Palace Theatre.
Movies and Television
Curry's television and movie credits are long and varied. Amongst his most notable roles are:
- Madman in a telefilm of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi (1972)
- Dr. Frank N. Furter The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
- Jerome K. Jerome in the BBC's TV movie Three Men in a Boat (1975)
- Has-been rock star Stevie Streeter in Rock Follies of '77 (1977)
- The disc jockey Johnny LaGuardia in Times Square (1980)
- One-time guest host of Saturday Night Live (1981)
- Larry Gormley in BBC's TV comedy Blue Money (1982)
- Rooster Hannigan in the musical Annie (1982)
- Lord of Darkness in the film Legend (1985)
- Wadsworth the Butler in the film Clue (1985)
- The Grand Wizard in The Worst Witch (1986)
- Pentecostal televangelist in Pass the Ammo (1988)
- Rapacious record producer Winston Newquay in Wiseguy (1989)
- The Prosecutor in The Wall Live in Berlin (1990)
- Dr. Petrov in The Hunt for Red October (1990)
- Dr. Thornton Poole the elocutionist in the film Oscar (1991)
- Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the miniseries It (1991)
- The Plaza Hotel concierge in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
- Cardinal Richelieu in Disney's The Three Musketeers (1993)
- Corrupt scientist Farley Claymore in The Shadow (1994)
- Gaal in Earth 2 (1994)
- Herkermer Homolka in Congo (1995), for which he earned a Razzie nomination
- Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
- The ships' purser in the Titanic (TV mini-series) (1996)
- Poet Man in Lexx (1997) in the episode Supernova
- Gomez Addams in Addams Family Reunion (1998)
- Jezebel Jack in Pirates of the Plain (1999)
- Edward Whatsett St. John in Jackie's Back! (1999)
- Roger Corwin in Charlie's Angels (2000)
- Felix in Four Dogs Playing Poker (2000)
- Damien Kemp in Sorted (2000)
- Professor Oldman in Scary Movie 2 (2001)
- Harley Dune in Wolf Girl (sometimes listed as Blood Moon (2001)
- The vet Matthew Hope in Ritual from the Tales from the Crypt (2001)
- Thurman Rice in Kinsey (2004)
- Dale The Whale Beiderbeck in Monk, the second person to take the role (2004)
He has said that he considers his most memorable performance to be Frank N Furter. However, he has stated that he considers his favourite role to be Long John Silver in Muppet Treasure Island because of his chance to work with Miss Piggy.
Curry has also said another of his favourite roles was Dr. Poole in 1991's Oscar.
From the early 1990s onward, Curry has been also become known as a highly-acclaimed voice artist. Notable roles include:
- King Acorn on various episodes of Sonic the Hedgehog (1993)
- Captain James T. Hook in Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates TV series (1990)
- Konk in Hanna-Barbera's TV series Pirates of Dark Water (1990)
- M.A.L., evil sentient computer program in Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1990-1993)
- Sir Gawain in The Legend of Prince Valiant (1991-1994)
- Taurus Bulba in Darkwing Duck (1991)
- Hexxus in FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
- Gabriel Knight in the computer games of the same name (1993, 1999)
- Skullmaster in Mighty Max (1993)
- Maelstrom in Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? (1994)
- Kilokhan in Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad (1994)
- George Herbert Walker King Chicken on Duckman (1994-1997)
- Dr. Anton Sevarius in Gargoyles (1994)
- Dr. Frankestein in the videogame Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (1994)
- Pretorius in the cartoon series The Mask: The Animated Series (1995)
- Count Nefarious in the video game Toonstruck (1995)
- Zimbo in AAAHH!!! Real Monsters (1996)
- Lazlo Gigahurtz in Bruno the Kid (1996)
- Lord Dragaunus in Disney's The Mighty Ducks TV Series (1996)
- Trader Slick in the Jumanji animated TV series (1996)
- Prince Lotor and King Alfor in Voltron: The Third Dimension (1996)
- Forté in Disney's Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997)
- Nigel Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys TV series and subsequent movies (1998)
- Stratos, the God of Air in the video game Sacrifice (2000)
- Slagar the Slaver in the TV miniseries Mattimeo: A Tale of Redwall (2000)
- The Mouse King in Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)
- The Cat King in the English dubbed version of Neko no ongaeshi (2002)
- Professor Finbarr Calamitous in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2002)
- General Von Talon in Valiant (2005)
- Narrator of the Lemony Snicket audio books
- Narrator of the Abhorsen Trilogy audio books
- Prince in Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties (2006)
Curry was cast as the Joker in Warner Brothers' Batman: The Animated Series, and even recorded several episodes worth of dialogue, but the producers felt his interpretation was too dark and frightening.
They recast Mark Hamill in the role, who leavened the character's darkness with an unpredictable sense of humour.
At the end of 2002, he served as the narrator in a parody of How The Grinch Stole Christmas for Nickelodeon, the channel that aired his show The Wild Thornberries. In the parody, Angelica (of Rugrats fame) serves in the Grinch role as she steals all the toys in a town.
Curry was also cast as the voice of SIR (Simulated Intelligence Robotics) at Walt Disney World's Alien Encounter, which ran from 1995-2003.